The 7th North-East Governors’ Forum has begun in Gombe State, with an announcement that the zone will soon launch a commercial airline in Nigeria.

Professor Babagana Zullum, Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, stated at the start of the meeting in Gombe that the governors decided to name the airline ‘the North East Regional Air Shuttle Limited.’

Prof. Zulum, the Governor of Borno State, stated that the North-East regional airline would be operational as soon as several financial and technical requirements were met.
“The forum is set to deliberate on matters of common interests and shared values,” he said.

responsibilities in the zone’s six states, and states must take a more critical look at the emerging issue of kidnapping, which has become a crime of choice for criminals and is becoming rampant.”

According to Professor Zulum, it is a strategic necessity to prioritise the issue of kidnapping and devise workable solutions to deal with the criminal element before it is too late.

End the insurgency

As a result, he stated that “it was strategically imperative for the North-East Governors to renew their resolve to end the insurgency in its entirety, to rekindle the public’s hopes and confidence, and to achieve their collective desire to restore sustainable peace and security in the North East.”
“As we all know, some Boko Haram elements are carrying out sporadic attacks on soft targets and innocent civilians, particularly in Borno State.” As a result, it is critical that we review our tactical strategies and methods of dealing with the situation and devise more pragmatic and viable procedures for addressing current security challenges and averting future potential threats,” Borno State Governor said.
Kinetic approach

He called on security forces to consider the kinetic approach to tackle insurgency and go on the offensive, to completely root out the belligerent ones.

Professor Zulum called the pacific focus on youth restiveness, massive unemployment and extreme poverty, by looking at various options for engaging the youths, in a gainful and rewarding way.

He said, “this would collectively harness the vast resources of the zone for the needed socio-economic viability and sustainable growth and development of the region.”
Professor Zulum said the North-East Governors’ Forum had been able to positively engage critical stakeholders like the North East Development Commission, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, the Arewa Research and Development Project as well as various agencies of the United Nations, in the determined efforts to address the multifarious challenges of the North East.

On the progress made by the forum in the two years of its existence, Professor Zulum said it was able to attract the stakeholders to the strategic imperative of resuscitating the dilapidated conditions of infrastructure like road networks, especially those linking the various states, to facilitate inter-State commercial activities and enhance agriculture production.

He said; “In this respect, the Forum and the major stakeholders, such as the North East Development Commission, are now operating on the same page, as the projects and programmes being executed by the Commission, within the framework of its statutory mandate, are in tandem with our aspirations,” Professor Zulum stated.

He, however, appealed to the Nigerian
Government and the National Assembly to incorporate into the 2023 Budget of the Nigerian Government the reconstruction and rehabilitation of many federal roads in the North East region, which have been in deplorable condition for years.

Professor Zulum said; “So on behalf of my colleagues, I am calling on the National Assembly, particularly the Senators and Representatives from the North East Zone too, as a matter of urgent priority, include the repairs and construction of a network of Federal roads within the zone, in next year’s budget, to achieve some semblance of parity with other zones of the country.”

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He said the forum had so far been concentrating on efforts to prioritise and develop the vast natural resources and other economic potentials to strengthen the financial independence and ensure less dependence on statutory allocations from the Federation Accounts.

The Chairman of the North-East Governors’ Forum, announced that the Mambila Hydroelectric Power Project was set to commence as soon as some legal and administrative issues were cleared.

On the issue of the Boko Haram insurgency, Professor Zulum said the challenge was gradually fizzling away, both in scope and intensity, because of some deliberate steps taken.

He said the steps were largely informed by credible intelligence received
that some Boko Haram members were contemplating repentance and surrender,
following the death of their leader, Abubakar Shakau.

He said; “We capitalised on this intelligence and immediately set in motion a non-kinetic policy of ending the insurgency by encouraging and incentivising those willing and ready to surrender. Our non-kinetic approach was so successful that from the initial few insurgents who surrendered, the number of those willing to surrender began to increase exponentially.”

He expressed continued gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his resolve to end the insurgency while commending the military and other security agencies for their undeniable sacrifice and relentless efforts to deal with all forms of insecurity in the North East.

Read Also: Renewed military bombardments force Boko Haram’s chief executioner, family to surrender

While welcoming the North-East Governors to Gombe State, Governor Muhammadu Yahaya, said the forum was formed following the first meeting on March 5, 2020, and had had a series of meetings in Maiduguri, Yola, Bauchi, Jalingo and Damaturu.

Governor Yahaya said, “each meeting engaged relevant stakeholders and deployed great energy and resources to brainstorm on common issues facing the subregion, and to find effective solutions.”

Consequently, he said the 7th meeting which is the first in the second round, was offering the opportunity to take stock of what had been achieved since the first meeting while reflecting on the challenges and obstacles being faced since the inception of the Forum.

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